Favorite Reads This Winter
King's Cage and War Storm by Victoria Ayevard
The final two books in the Red Queen series
Dang, did I love this series. The story is epic in scope across the four books, but essentially you have a lower class trying to overthrow the ruling class with moody teenagers at the helm, i.e. MY FAVORITE THING EVER.
YA series often fall short because the characters aren't consistent in their choices; you just don't believe that the girl from book one would make the choices she did in book four. That wasn't true of this series. Everyone felt true in their motivations, and the story took a few surprising turns I didn't see coming. The ending was the tiniest bit disappointing for me but just barely. Not even close to making me regret reading the book.
The Selection and The Elite by Kiera Cass
The first two books in The Selection series
I had no idea I'd need The Bachelor in a YA dystopia, but I SUPER DO. In the newly formed kingdom of Illea (which I'm pretty sure is the kingdom of a dystopian American West Coast), Prince Maxon must find a bride. How will he find her? He'll gather 35 ladies from various classes (ranked by numbers 1-8), date them all, and televise it for the kingdom to enjoy. I mean.
This series is exactly what you'd expect. It's frothy and amazingly fun. Your worldview will not change one bit, and sometimes you'll think "Why am I still reading past midnight I'm not thirteen!" and yet you'll keep reading. It's just a blast of a series, so if you need something light and ridiculous that also has a great story, start this series. The first two books were great, and I'm stoked for the final three. Come on, library waiting list, speed up.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
I luuuuuved this book. It was so weird and satirical and fascinating. Laura Tremaine mentioned it recently as a book she thought was okay because she basically wanted a murder story and not a sister story, but I dug the sister story personally and didn't miss the murder. I share that in case you're looking for one thing and get another.
The story is literally the title - one sister is a serial killer, and the other is a nurse, a neat freak, and doesn't want her sister to go to prison so she helps dispose of the bodies. And all the bodies are disgruntled boyfriends which is the best. Of course, the plot rests on the non-murderous sister falling for a guy that is dating the murderous sister, and then all bets are off. It's short, a little bonkers, really well written, and an entertaining one-off read.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Y'all know how much I love The Night Circus, right? When love and magic and atmosphere come together, I'm all in. Caraval is like if The Night Circus was a nightmare, and it was awesooooome.
Two sisters who live with an abusive, tyrannical father want to get to Caraval, an annual game of intrigue and magic where the winner gets one wish granted. The journey getting to Caraval is harrowing, and then once inside the grounds, what they'd imagined was not even close to reality. The characters were interesting, the description of place was super fun, and the story was unexpected because who knows what'll happen in a world of magic? I loved it.
Caraval is the first book in a trilogy, but I'm not sure I'll read on. I loved this book so much, heard from my sister that the second book was meh, and I'm content with the cliffhanger of the first book to not keep going for something that's not amazing. Maybe I'll change my mind if Hannah says the third book is worth the trudge, but for now, Caraval is a beautiful, weird stand-alone.
Body Love by Kelly LeVeque
I turned 37 at the end of last year, and I can't get over how much my body is changing. Things that used to be normal are now giving me intense headaches and fatigue. My muscles hurt in weird places after I've done literally nothing. I don't like feeling like half a person, so I decided to read Body Love to look for answers about what's happening.
I really enjoyed Kelly's writing voice, and her research on how metabolism works is astounding. I learned so much. I also loved her message of how simple the mindset is and you don't have to live a life of deprivation but just need to be aware of what certain foods might do to your body. That was the first half, and I really enjoyed it. The second half was full of recipes and lifestyle tips which seemed to backpedal on the whole "just pay attention and live your life" message, but that's okay. It was a helpful read to understand what my body does with food, but I'll stick with my own grocery list and meal plans for now.
The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
I'm so excited for you to read this book. It's a must read if you're a human who has to decide things. Which, if you say that's not you, I'm guessing you and your alien people will destroy earth at any given moment. The Next Right Thing is a beautifully written book (plus an actual beautiful book to hold to boot) about how to make soulful decisions. Y'all know how much I love Emily, and this is my favorite book she's written. Which is saying something because I'm obsessed with the others.
The Soul of Discipline by Kim John Payne
Parenting books can be a buzzkill, am I right? It's just chapter after chapter telling us how we're doing it wrong, often with a tone that very much says we're doing it wrong. This book was a whole different animal. Practical, researched, and tonally encouraging, we have seen massive shifts in our family since we started implementing even just a couple of the principles in this book. I didn't realize how much I was expecting from my kids that they're just not developmentally equipped for. I mean, did you know that it's confusing and disorienting to little kids when you ask them to do something rather than just legit telling them??? Mind blown. And life changed.
The book breaks down three hats we wear as parents that become bigger and smaller as our kids get older - the governor (a kind person but who's legit in charge), the gardener (somebody who's noticing patterns and nuances while still being the one actively tending to what's happening), and the guide (a person who's part of the journey but not necessarily in charge). It's given Kaz and me such great language to name our goals as parents and how we want to connect with our kids. I highly recommend it to any parent. You'll definitely get at least one helpful nugget out of it if not a dozen.